Where to Find Good, Inexpensive Stock Photos

Posted at September 26, 2011

Church is all about people. If your Website is all text, with no faces, it doesn’t tell me too much about the character, personality, or heart of your ministry. There are basically two routes you can take when it comes to putting photos on your Website:

Capture photos of your own

This is, by far, the preferred approach. Nothing is more authentic than putting photos of your own pastor, people, activities, building, and trips. There are some potential pitfalls with using photos of your own people, and we’ll cover those in a future post.  Generally speaking, however, if you can assemble a library of original images, we’d recommend using those as your primary pool of photos for your Website.

Use stock images

Stock photos, once incredibly expensive and only practical for large publications or people with fat corporate budgets, are now much cheaper and much more ubiquitous. With a little searching, you can probably find a perfect image for your application that costs less than you might think.

Tip: when searching for stock photos, stick with royalty free. Other images, normally called “rights managed”, cost far more and carry more restrictions on how they can be used.

Here is a roundup of some popular sites:

  • Veer: Images, fonts.  Images range from $2 to $525 (and up) depending on size and licensing.
  • iStockphoto: Images, illustrations, video, audio, animations. Images range from $3 to 45, videos from $70 to 300 depending on size/resolution.
  • Fotolia: Images, illustrations, video from $0.75 to $675
  • CreationSwap: FREE images, photos, logos, bulletins, sermon graphics, and more.
  • OPEN (from LifeChurch.tv): FREE sermon packages, kids/students resources, volunteer resource kits, promo videos, church website resources, etc.
  • WorshipHouseMedia (recently acquired by Salem): Images from $1.98 to $3.  Video promos, song tracks, motion backgrounds, countdowns and other elements vary by price/resolution.
  • Highway Media: Most images are free; videos range from $7.50 to 20.  Also offer sermon illustrations, worship video loops, music, and more.
  • Shutterstock: Flat-rate subscription starts at $249/month, or $49 for 5 images.
  • Getty Images: Aggregates stock images from various libraries.  Be sure to search royalty free or else you will faint at the prices for their other stock images! RF images vary from $10 to $600 depending on size.


What else did we leave out? Do you have a favorite spot to get your stock images? Other than Google and Bing, of course. :)

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